Ag Policy Blog

Surveying Midwest Crop Farmers on China Tariffs

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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More than 91% of corn and soybean farmers surveyed in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota reported farm-income declines because of the U.S.-China trade dispute, but a majority agreed with President Trump's tariffs against China.

Midwest farmers see the U.S.-China trade war as having a long-term negative impact on agriculture, but could enhance the relationship because the two countries and translate into some type of positive outcome -- even if it hurts their own farm operations over the next year.

Looking at how Midwest crop farmers viewed the U.S.-China trade war, Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) released some survey results last week gauging how farmers viewed the tariff war.

The survey reached 678 farmers in Iowa (43.4%), Illinois, (31.8%) and Minnesota (23.1%). Of those surveyed, 70% had sales of at least $250,000 with 21.1% reporting sales of $1 million or more. ISU sought to reach corn and soybean farmers with at least 250 acres.

Just under half of farmers surveyed, 47.4%, either agreed or strongly agreed that the tariffs imposed by U.S. and China will have "long-term negative effects on U.S. agriculture." Another 25.1% could neither agree nor disagree with that view. And 27.6% of farmers either disagreed or strongly disagreed that there would be long-term negative effects.

While just under a majority see long-term negative impacts, 54.6% of farmers surveyed disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, "Nothing good will come out of this trade disruption." Another 15.5% could neither agree nor disagree with that statement. Just under 30% of farmers agreed or strongly agreed that nothing good would come out of this trade disruption.

A high percentage, 81.5%, agreed with the statement, "I hope this trade disruption is resolved soon."

Still, 56% of farmers were either somewhat or strongly supportive of President Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese products with 30% either strongly or somewhat opposed to the tariffs.

Few agreed with the statement, "A year from now, my farm operation will be better off financially because of this trade disruption." Just 14% agreed with that statement. Another 53.3% of farmers in the survey either disagreed or strongly disagreed with that view.

Looking at the impacts of the trade disruption, 91.3% of farmers in the survey experienced a decline in farm income "before USDA assistance." Of those, 29.3% saw farm income fall more than 205. Another 42.4% saw farm income fall from 10% to 20%.

When it comes to trade aid, just 6.2% of farmers said the Market Facilitation Program payments were "not at all helpful." Another 82.9% of farmers agreed the payments were helpful with 25% agreeing the payments were "very helpful."

Farmers were more evenly divided over whether the trade disruption will enhance the relationship between the U.S. and China in the long run. The split showed 33.3% of farmers either disagreed or strongly disagreed with that view. On the positive side were 36.6% of farmers who either agreed or strongly agreed the relationship would be better. And 30.2% of farmers in survey could neither agree nor disagree.

More than three-quarters of farmers agreed or strongly agreed that the amount of U.S. debt held by China is a serious problem. Another 70.5% agreed China engages in cyber economic espionage on the U.S. Yet, 92.1% also agreed or strongly agreed that it's important for the U.S. to maintain a healthy economic relationship with China.

The full survey results can be viewed at https://www.card.iastate.edu/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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